MANGALURU, HUBBALLI, MYSURU: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday conducted searches at five locations in Dakshina Kannada, Hubballi and Mysuru districts, and arrested three PFI cadres in connection with the murder of BJP Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru.
The arrested persons have been identified main accused and SDPI state secretary K Ismail Shafi Bellare, Bellare Gram Panchayat member K Mohammad Iqbal Bellare, and Ibrahim Sha of Sullia,, all having links with the banned Popular Front of India (PFI). While Shafi was picked up in Bengaluru, Iqbal was arrested from his house around 3 am on Saturday. All three were taken to Bengaluru.
In Hubballi, a team of 10 NIA officers raided the house of SDPI leader Ismail Nalaband in Noorani Plot, Old Hubballi . They also raided the SDPI office in Kasabapet.
After five hours of questioning, Ismail told Public TV, “The officers were curteous. They have suspicion about my younger son and have issued a notice to appear for questioning either today evening or on November 7. The banned PFI and SDPI have no links, the ideology is different. They may have participated in some of our protests”, he said.
In Mysuru, raid were conducted on the houses of some activists in NR Mohalla and Mandi Mohalla.
“The three accused were arrested for their active involvement in the conspiracy hatched to murder Praveen Nettaru”, the NIA said in a statement. So far, 10 accused persons have been arrested in this case, and the NIA has also announced a reward against four absconding accused persons in the case while the efforts to arrest them still continue.
During the pre-dawn searches on Saturday, the NIA said digital devices and incriminating documents were seized from the houses of the accused and suspects.
Nettaru, a resident of Bellare village and district secretary of BJP’s Yuva Morcha, was killed with sharp weapons by PFI cadres on July 26 to strike terror among the people of society. The case was initially registered at Bellare police station in Dakshina Kannada district on July 27 and was later re-registered by the NIA on August 4.
Three people came in a vehicle on the night of July 26 and hacked 32-year-old Nettaru to death outside his chicken shop off the Puttur-Sullia Road at Bellare in Mangaluru.
During the investigation, the state police found out the role of PFI and the matter was then handed over to the NIA following an order issued by the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The MHA, in September-end, banned the PFI, its associates, and affiliates for a period of five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 by declaring it as an unlawful association.
Besides involvement in Nettaru’s murder, the PFI cadres are also accused of their involvement in several terrorist acts and the murder of several persons, including Sanjith (Kerala, November 2021), V Ramalingam (Tamil Nadu, 2019), Nandu (Kerala, 2021), Abhimanyu (Kerala, 2018), Bibin (Kerala, 2017), Sharath (Kamataka, 2017), R.Rudresh (Kamataka, 2016), Praveen Puyari (Karnataka, 2016), and Sasi Kumar (Tamil Nadu, 2016).
The MHA has said that the criminal activities and brutal murders have been carried out by the PFI cadres with the sole objective of “disturbing public peace and tranquility and creating a reign of terror in the public mind”.
The MHA has also mentioned “international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups”, and that some activists of the outfit have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Some of these PFI cadres linked to ISIS have been killed in these conflict theaters and some have been arrested by the State Police and Central Agencies. The MHA also said that the PFI has linkages with Jamat-ul-Muyahideen Bangladesh (JMB) which is a proscribed terrorist organisation”. (With Agency inputs)